Two years ago, Heritage Hotels & Resorts (www.hhandr.com) made the strategic decision to leave its representation service. Regarded for its culturally distinct hotels, Heritage Hotels & Resorts offers six properties: Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town, Nativo Lodge, Hotel St. Francis, The Lodge at Santa Fe, Hotel Encanto, and the recently transformed Hotel Chimayo de Santa Fe (previously Hotel Plaza Real).
The decision to leave the representation service was made so that Heritage could renew its focus on unique independent hotels, carefully tailored to the respective property’s local culture. In addition to finding new modes of distribution, the exit required Heritage to make the decision to either stay on its legacy central reservations system (CRS) that had been chosen by the representation service, or to migrate to a new system altogether.
The management at Heritage Hotels pores over every property detail to ensure its hotels authentically reflect the spirit of the Southwest U.S. It was important to take similar care in selecting a strategy to drive business to the complete portfolio. The CRS that was chosen needed to enable management to redesign the revenue management strategy, to help “cover the field” and capture all available business opportunities.
Elasticity and integration key components to cross-property distribution
The flexibility of the platform was one of the most important factors considered. Heritage needed a platform that had solid distribution, but at the same time, was flexible enough to help sell each hotel’s unique culture, products and experience.
Customer service was another major factor. Heritage Hotels is a young and small company, so it was important to ensure that a business partner would help grow the business. As a smaller fish competing for global business, Heritage Hotels needed to go with a company that would offer more personalized service, but was still able to deliver sophisticated technology.
The RezView Next Generation from Pegasus (www.pegs.com) had been hailed as the first major redesign to central reservations in more than 20 years, and had subsequently swept several technology awards from CIO, InformationWeek, and InfoWorld after being implemented with more than 8,000 properties.
Lauded for its highly reliable interfaces with a wide variety of property systems, it held the promise of allowing Heritage Hotels to manage all room and non-room inventory, availability status, restrictions, pricing and policies per property preference. RezView NG also helped redesign the revenue management strategy, affording each hotel the flexibility to structure itself in the best way for that destination.
Heritage also chose Pegasus for distribution through Utell Connect (www.utell.com), allowing all Heritage properties to present rates and availability and to vividly convey the hotel experience to online travel agencies (OTAs), corporate travel departments and tour operators. Ultimately, Heritage expanded this distribution commitment, switching to full service support to leverage Utell’s global preferred relationships with major travel management companies (TMCs), including American Express (www.americanexpress.com), BCD Travel (www.bcdtravel.com), and Carlson Wagonlit Travel (www.carlsonwagonlit.com).
Once the RezView NG system was implemented, the Pegasus team took great care to help Heritage management understand and optimize the product. A revenue manager was sent to the Heritage Hotels corporate office in Albuquerque to go through the properties, applying revenue management rules to every component of the booking, not just the room.
Attention to unique characteristics yields uptick in bookings
Since making the move to RezView NG, overall data shows that all Heritage properties have realized a 12.2% growth in reservations and an 11.6% increase in revenue. The three Santa Fe properties, which include the Hotel Chimayo, have seen an astounding 32% growth in reservations with a 14.4% jump in revenue. Additionally, the move to Utell has yielded a 23% year-to-date uptick in revenue generated through the GDS, further increasing solid gains realized in 2012.
Re-focusing on each of the Heritage Hotels properties was key to the group’s success. It was the care, attention and results Pegasus garnered for each of the properties during the CRS implementation that yielded the desired results of increased bookings driven by the unique characteristic of each location.
Kathleen Cullen is the vice president of revenue strategies for Heritage Hotels & Resorts, a cultural hospitality company offering a collection of award winning accommodations distinct in style. Each celebrates the rich, multi-cultural heritage of the southwestern United States, drawing from its unique blend of Native American, Mexican, Spanish and American Western cultural and historical influences.